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Seeding deep democracy - Vandana Shiva

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Ecological Options Network The EON Deep Democracy Interview Series - Planetarian Perspectives Author, Scholar, Activist Vandana Shiva on Seeding Deep Democracy Well, I started to save seeds 20 years ago when I first realized that corporations wanted to own and control seed. They wanted to create property in seed. They wanted to turn it into their intellectual property. And they wanted to genetically engineer seed to maximize their profits and returns by marrying seeds to chemicals like herbicide resistant crops, BT toxin crops. For me, the imperative to save seeds came really from an ethical urge to defend life's evolution. Life's diversity. And the freedom of life to reproduce, to multiply to be able to just be distributing. Because I could see that this would create a new kind of scarcity, which it has. Today, 150.000 farmers in India have committed suicide in areas where seed has been destroyed. Where they have to buy the seed from Monsanto, and buy it every year at very very high cost, and that high cost seed is getting them into debt and that debt is pushing them to suicide. What we've done, is create community seed banks. Places where we collect and save seeds - rescue them from disappearance, multiply them, and then distribute them according to farmers' needs. About 40 community seed banks have been created across the length and breadth of India. Places where these have been created, farmers are not in distress. Because the biggest cost today is seeds and chemicals. These seed banks have now been a new place where we can respond to the new crisis of globalization on the one hand, and climate change on the other. Globalization has led to farmers' suicides. We are able to take seeds to these suicide zones. And distribute the seeds so that farmers can break out of that dependency. Grow food crops. Get out of debt. We've been able to create community seed banks to deal with climate change. With the extreme flooding, the new droughts, the cyclones, the hurricanes that lead to salinization. Today - for us - the work on seed has become the place from where we are responding to the worst tragedies and the worst crises of our times. (Voice of EON Producer: Mary Beth Brangan) Could you speak - in relation to this - also about the imperative to keep the people who are still on the land, on the land as the industrialized world is realizing we have to come back to the land? If we really, seriously look at what is the crisis we are facing, whether it's climate change or it's unemployment or it's the crisis of food, where you can't be secure in your food at all, the solution to so much of this comes from people being on the land as conservers. Of the seed. Of the soil. Of the water. Food production is a by-product of ecosystem conservation. And unless we have people back on the land we will not be able to protect the resources of this planet. We will not be able to respond to climate change. Cities are the worst guzzlers of energies. They're highly unstable units in periods of vulnerability. Rural areas is where we must create the cushions to deal with the new crisis humanity faces. And putting people back on the land and defending those who are on the land are the two most important projects for our time. (Voice of EON Producer: James Heddle) What does the term "deep democracy" mean to you? How would you explain it to people in terms of your own experience? Over the years, freedoms of people have been reduced to a very shallow form of democracy. Going out to vote - once in 5 years or 4 years, depending on your electoral process. Not being able to hold those you've voted accountable. Once they've got in power, they do exactly as they please. As if the only role of people in a democracy is as "vote banks". That is not democracy. Because the decisions made, by unaccountable leaders, are pushing countries to war. Destroying the planet with climate change. Creating more corporate regimes that are destroying the fundamental freedoms of people - whether it's the right to live on the land, the right to save your seeds, the right to have safe food. To get those freedoms back, we need a deeper democracy. And that deeper democracy I have named "earth democracy". It is a democracy that is related to the earth, in the sense that we are first and foremost citizens of the earth, of the planet. Then we are American citizens, and Indian citizens. Then we are citizens of particular regions and places. Then we belong to religions, then we belong to races. But - first and foremost - we are given a species form, that is matched to the ecology of this beautiful, beautiful planet. The second reason I call it "earth democracy" is it's practiced close to the earth. It's practiced best where you live, everyday. It's practiced in everyday life. For more info: see above websites

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 59 seconds
Country: India
Language: English
Producer: EON Ecological Options Network
Director: EON
Views: 250
Posted by: tinaki on May 2, 2010

Vandana Shiva: Scientist, activist, author Vandana Shiva talks about the importance of saving non-GMO seeds and her concept of 'Earth Democracy.'

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